A few weeks ago I made the trek out to Gilbert, AZ and visited a number of coffee shops. I found some good ones and some bad ones. I wrote this during my visit.

Well I am sitting at Zephyr Esspresso Caffe (Gilbert Rd. & Warner) and it’s a beautiful Saturday morning. I’ve just ordered and I’m waiting for my doppio macchiato. I’m looking at the store and the first thing I have to say is the color choices are horrid. Maybe these photos will help. Why is everything painted burgundy? It is so ugly and makes the whole place feel dark and small. The chairs have really nice wood and unfortunately are invisible next to the burgundy.

The barista just walked over to my table and asked me to clarify my order. Here’s how the conversation went down.

Barista: “What is a doppio macchiato?”

Me: “Um, a doppio macchiato. It’s two shots of espresso with a dollop of foam.”

At this point the barista attempts to pronounce doppio and fails.

Barista: “What language is that?”

Me: “Um, it’s Italian for double, or two.”

Barista: “Why didn’t you just order a macchiato then?”

I gave up at this point because it was hopeless. I am happy to report that the doppio macchiato did arrive (it wasn’t that great) and so I at least got my order right, if you call a macchiato with no crema “right.”

James and Connie Lee are the owners of Zephyr and they have over a decade in the coffee business (they had a coffee shop by the same name in SF). I’m pretty sure they were the ones who took my order and made my drink. It’s confusing to me that they didn’t have some familiarity with the term ‘doppio.’ Oh well.

Just for the record I didn’t spell espresso wrong in the name, they actually do have espresso spelled as ‘esspresso’ on their signage. I wonder why. Maybe I should ask them what language it’s written in.

Maybe I’m making too big a deal about the lack of understanding with the word “doppio,” but I like to think it’s a common term.

Oh well, it’s one of the few choices in Gilbert and they do have free wireless internet. Just don’t order the doppio macchiato.

Here are a couple of photos to commemorate the occasion.

Update: Here is another sign. This shows the ‘esspresso’ on their signage. It doesn’t show the double ‘s’ on the outdoor signs but on the stickers on the door it does. Odd.

Arizona Coffee

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15 comments

  1. Mike Trevino

    EEK! I’m sorry for the bad experience. Especially from business people with a long coffee history.
    Not to defend the poorly made macchiato, but I’ve had my mistakes with the odd drinks in my past. Those drinks you just don’t get a whole lot of orders for. (macchiato, con panna, cubano, flat white) Ask Martha about the Macchiato/Con Pana mix-up that almost put me in the hospital and her in jail. 😉 The PBTC was probably ignorant of said drink and the Barista had them make sure it wasn’t a caramel macchiato. About once a month I’m faced with a order for a “macchiato” and most of the time they mean a caramel vanilla latte or the infamous Caramel Macchiato we all hate.

  2. Caramel Macchiato isn’t an industry term, and therefore should not be treated as such. Macchiato IS an industry term, and should be treated as such. If someone orders a Macchiato, serve them a Macchiato. If they give a look of confusion and ask “what’s that?” tell them what it is. If they thought they were ordering a latte, kindly explain to them that that is a Starbucks name, and that really, it’s a foamy latte built in reverse, and kindly suggest that that’s how they should order if that’s what they are looking to purchase.

    In regards to Zephur, the sign looks cool. The interior looks nice enough.. though a bit too standardized, which leads me to instantly associate it with mediocre-bad coffee. A flaw on my part, probably, but that’s just the impression I get.

    Maybe it would be a worthwhile hangout if the espresso were any good.

  3. I just noticed the last photo that shows the sign has espresso spelled correctly. For some reason the rest of the signage has it spelled ‘esspresso.’

  4. ..I assume they did not extract directly into the demitasse (which would explain the lack of crema – I hope).

    I have found that people in Bozeman, MT are always looking for the “Latte” Macchiato as Haeger talked about. Even after explaining to a few people what the Macchiato is, they are still surprised and say something like “this is hardly full”.

    This goes back to the independents doing their part to educate and not only serve great coffee but pass along the passion and knowledge to their customers.

    ..be bold

  5. Michael

    Well, I would like to set the stage and do the Lee’s justice just so my experience does not come across as one-sided. I have found the Zephyr to be conducive to my graduate studies when I am looking for a change from the University library. My wife and I have stopped in on numerous occasions to have a coffee and a snack. However, this past Sunday (03-25-07) was an experience I will never forget. I came in 9:00am and ordered my usual coffee, sat down and began studying while I waited for a classmate to join me. My friend showed about 10:00am. He did not order from the menu as he does not drink coffee and had already eaten breakfast. Yes, at this point one might be thinking…well my friend is using their space, (i.e. soaking up their oxygen right?) and should order from the menu. Ok, I am not going to argue that principal. So here is the story. They close at 2:00pm, so about 1:30 he comes around the table, not to see how we are doing, but to let us know they close at 2pm. Alright, I am thinking…thanks for the notice. About 15 minutes later, at 1:45, I hear from behind me…”HURRY UP, GET OUT!!” No joke!! Once I overcame the shock of the situation, I inquired about the fuss he is making about us leaving. All he has to say is, “we close at 2:00, time for you to go.” As he is scolding my friend for not ordering and practically shoving us out the door, his wife is in her half-hearted polite way telling us they have to go to church. Wow, you won’t catch me at that church! Oh yea, and it is probably needless to say, you will never catch me in that place of business again. I did write much more than intended, but I felt compelled to share the experience. If you like substandard customer service, have a ball! MP

  6. Len

    A very large chip of someone’s shoulder: To say James and Connie Lee, the owners of Zephyrs Coffee, have terrible customer service is to suggest they have any customer service at all, which they certainly do not. As I walked by Connie Lee, the wife & owner, she never smiled but instead looked me up and down with a look of absolute distain – not exactly warm and welcoming. 15 minutes before closing, Mr. Lee actually yelled at us and I quote: “Leave now! Hurry up! You buy nothing so get out!” Truth be told, my buddy bought a coffee and I had nothing and we studied for 3 hours. Instead of speaking with us, or asking if we’d like anything, they traded in customer service for a very large chip on their shoulders and completely and inappropriately alienated two customers. The irony: they probably had 6 customers in the entire time we were there and now they have at least two less then they did on Sunday. Prediction: Out of business in 6 months.

  7. Dave B

    Sorry to read that there have been a few bad experiences at Zephyr Caffe. My visits there have always been a pleasurable experience. James and Connie always recognize me as a regular and usually try to remember my name (Connie admits it is more difficult than it once was).

    The Lees have done what they can to make it a nice and comfortable spot. I especially appreciate what they have done to support local artists by showcasing their work in the cafe and allowing exhibits out along the sidewalk.

    There is a funny story about the ‘Esspresso’ spelling in the logo. The Lees owned the legendary Zephyr Caffe and Art Gallery in San Francisco’s Richmond district. The artist that did the logo misspelled espresso and the Lees didn’t have the heart to tell him, so it became the new name.

    The Zephyr is a great spot for me and I feel fortunate to have such a pleasant alternative to corporate coffee chains.

  8. Didn’t have the heart? LOL. It’s a business decision, not a craft fair.

  9. Janggo

    It is not lucrative/profitable for the small coffee shop business owners to see a couple of customers to buy a cup of coffee and to sit down for hours and to use the outlet. The more the customers who don’t buy anything and sit down for hours in the coffee shop and use the outlet of the coffee shop, the more the small business owners close their business. It is harmful for the nation and the people. It is sad to hear that the customers maintain and complain about their abuses of the public local business.

  10. I’ve always been greeting warmly by Connie and James.
    The fact that the Italian spoken by an English speaker to a Asian listener (for whom English is clearly not their first language) is not particularly damning in my mind.
    Of course, when I go to their shop I buy things, I suppose I can understand how they would be less accommodating to those who just want to use the outlets. This is a nice shop that is locally owned. I recommend it.

  11. Kym

    It’s really off-putting to walk into a completely empty café, so Len and Michael were actually doing this place a favor. Had others been jostling for a table, then the situation would have been different.
    I can just imagine the muttering going on behind the counter before this happened…. “Hurry up, get out!”… that’s a classic!

  12. Jeff Bambino

    The Zephyr is a cown jewel as far as I am concerned. The owners are exceptional in all and everything they do just to keep me from travelling to some obscure Java shop in the outskirts of Phoenix. As for all the bad feelings being generated; my thoughts are, “if you feel like crap, sleep like crap, have crappy friends and your whole day is just crappy guess what pumpkin your life is crappy. Duhhhh..” So, negative feelings on any establishment causes people to actually come on down and have a cup of Joe. Lucky for you I`m the only one here enjoying the atmosphere Zephyr offers me. See ya later bird-brain.

  13. Aaron

    You are a whiney uptight snob. Did you even look at the menu? When you go to a good restaurant, don’t you want to know what the favorites and specials are? You mention nothing about their famous desert snack or the amazing iced coffees. It’s kind of like going to Mortons and getting a salad. She probably looked at you and said “just macchiato? How strange!”. The vanilla bean frappé is my favorite and my wires fave is a mocha something or another. Dont be such a fem.